Monday, September 21, 2015

Macho Man

It was coming up on 10:00 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning and I was standing next to my car filling it up with gasoline. The station was one of those expansive layouts with row upon row of pumps. From my vantage point, I had a clear view of the whole place. In the shadow of the pumps I could see folks going about their business. Some entering onto the lot to head into the building to make a purchase. Some just cutting across the pavement to save a few minutes on their journey. However, one young man caught my attention. When he thought nobody was looking, he would carry himself loosely and walk with an even stride. But whenever he thought someone was looking his way, he would immediately start into a tough-guy swagger. As he did this his eyes would narrow and he would spit between his teeth. As soon as he saw the eyes of the watchers move back to their own activity, he would revert back to his normal walk and his normal pace.

Man this must be an exhausting way to live. Exhausting physically. Exhausting mentally. This whole scene is actually quite sad to me. What kind of society do we live in that so deeply ingrains into a young person's mind that they have to act like a street tough to be taken seriously, to be considered a real man? Looking at this person crossing the parking lot, my mind filled in some details based on what I saw. This was not some rich or middle class kid dressed in expensive clothes trying to come across as cool. This was likely someone from a lower-class upbringing who has seen more than his share of trouble, more than his share of fighting, more than his share of crime. Yet I cannot help but think that if he made the same effort toward making something valuable of himself as he did in posturing and trying to fit into some dark image, that he could make a real difference in his world.